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Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

Title: Don’t You Forget About Me
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Series: None
Rating: 5 Stars

336 pages
Published June 10th by HarperTeen
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that if the book is weird and crazy, Celine will love it. And Don’t You Forget About Me is all kinds of crazy. It’s a frigging rainbow of crazy.

Every four years, the teens in Gardnerville go mental. They blow shit up, murder, commit suicide, or simply explode up because of pent up energy. During a bad fourth year, someone made the sky go dark for six years. And during one particular fourth year, Piper made fourty teens jump off a bridge to their death. Skylar, Piper’s younger sister, is now left behind. Skylar tries to forget, but there are just some memories that are so persistent they cannot be ignored.

It’s hard to describe what Don’t You Forget About Me is like, because it’s hard to compare it to other books. It’s often vague, at times confusing, sometimes creepy, and crazy in a wonderfully calculated way. For a big chunk of the book the reader is kept in the dark as to what exactly is going on, analogous with Skylar, until everything fits together perfectly in the end. It’s easy to come up with strange ideas and throw them into a story, but it takes extreme skill to make everything wrap up like Ms Quinn did.

Skylar, the main character, is not easy to like. She’s not particularly nice, has a pretty bad drug addiction and an obsession with her older sister. She’s not bubbly, or self-sacrificing, or cute. She’s bitter and hurt and holds secrets, even from herself. In short, she’s what happens to a human when they see their sister kill dozens of teens. And yet she still loves Piper, and longs to find her in the Reformatory on the edge of Gardnerville, where Piper has been locked up.

The story alternates between the running narrative of Skylar battling her demons, and memories from Skylar of years back adressed to Piper. At first I was a bit bored with these memories, thinking they were only meant to make us sympathise with Skylar and Piper, but in the end they turned out to be about more than that.

Don’t You Forget About Me is not an easy read. It’s packed with emotion, especially towards the end. It’s filled with themes like drug addiction, terror, child abuse (subtle, but there), grief, disillusionment, and some seriously messed up families. At times, it’s not a pretty story. Don’t You Forget About Me resembles a cat that has matted fur, lost and eye, has crooked ears and has a limp, that nevertheless (or maybe because of it) becomes something close to your heart. This book is probably not one that will appeal to everyone, but if you think you can handle the oddness, give it a shot. For me the book that comes closest to it in comparison is The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. Only then with a town where no one dies from illnesses, and with rats and fairy lights that kill and people that can control emotions and a magic train that brings fresh cattle.


Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

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  • http://adriftonvulcan.com/ Megan (Adrift on Vulcan)

    Oh, this was one of the most bizarre yet amazing reads of this year! So far I’m loving everything Kate Quinn is publishing so let’s hope that her creative juices never ever dry up. 😉 But lol, love how you describe what goes down on fourth years. Couldn’t have put it better myself! And I totally agree with you about Skylar: a lot of people found her to be a good narrator, but I really disliked her in the beginning and found it hard to connect with her because of her addiction. But I guess that’s what made her character more realistic and memorable from others: she didn’t have a particularly positive or noble side like usual heroines, and that’s something I liked.

    The last 20% or so of the book was… mind-blowing. When Quinn started explaining everything, it was probably one of the best “aha!” moments of my life, ever. I mean, ALL the questions I ever had were answered, in the weirdest way possible, with the weirdest explanations and I LOVED IT. The only thing was that I couldn’t take the confusion and the slowness at the beginning, so that knocked down my rating a notch.

    So glad that you enjoyed this, Celine! Have you read Another Little Piece by her? I have a feeling you’ll enjoy it if you enjoyed this one — it’s as much as a mindfuck as Don’t You Forget About Me was. 🙂

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      Everything fits together so well! I haven’t read Another Little Piece yet, but if it’s anything like Don’t You Forget About Me I’m sure I’ll love it! I already added it to my wishlist. So glad to hear you’re a fan Megan, and thank you for stopping by!

  • http://rabidreads.ca/ Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    I keep hearing wonderful and strange things about this author and her books. I already have her other book, so I’ll probably wind-up reading it first, but this one is definitely going on my wishlist too. PS–I really liked The Replacement, as bizarre as it was 😉 Great review!

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      If you enjoy The Replacement, chances are good that you’ll like this too! Hope you enjoy Another Little Piece, I’m really looking forward to reading that one myself (:

  • Anya E. J.

    Interesting! I had written this one off since I didn’t realize it has a magic element. I’m not quite sure that I can handle it, but I’ll keep it in mind 😉

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      It’s more of a kind of magic realism kind of book than real fantasy, but it’s really cool. This is one of those books best checked out at a library first if you’re hesitant ^^

  • http://lookingforthepanacea.blogspot.com.au/ Nara @ Looking for the Panacea

    This book was SO bizarre. It’s definitely not the type of story I was expecting- I was thinking it’d be more of an action sort of thing. You know, with the main character staging a breakout for her sister and freeing the town from the terrible magic etc etc.
    But it was so much more interesting than that! I have to admit, I was pretty confused for a lot of the book too- and yeah, bored for some of the flashbacks, but it was great how it all came together at the end!

    Apparently her other book is quite crazy as well- so I’m definitely going to be getting my hands on that at some point 😀

    • http://www.nyxbookreviews.com/ Celine

      Yes on the action thing – I was totally expecting it to be more thriller like too! But I’m so glad that sometimes there are still YA novels that push the boundaries and aren’t afraid of doing something completely different. The flashbacks were daring, and not always fully successful, but the story overall was awesome.

      Can’t wait for more craziness 😀

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